I am planning my first tiered cake, and all of a sudden my mind is filled with doubt and questions. One of them being, does each tier have to be made of a fairly dense cake? if the cake is light and fluffy, will it fall apart? I know the dowels are there to support it, but will they be enough, or should I avoid light and fluffy cakes?
The otherthing I'm constantly confused about is what size tiers to use. 10", 8" and 6"? Or 12", 9", and 6"? Is that just preference.
I have heard the Wilton serving guide is a bit on the stingy side, and some people make larger cakes. Also, if it's for a party and not a wedding, then will people eat more?
Oh lordy... I'm a bundle of nerves!
I would suggest doing a practice run and donating the practice cake to a church or something. The first one is very nerve racking. If you have one under your belt, the second will seem easier.
I would also check out SPS (Single Plate System) for stacking. You can stack jello if it's properly supported. Cake density doesn't matter really, the weight should be on the supports, not on the cake. Now, if you cake isn't level, that's different. Tiered cakes must be level.
I use bubble straws for 2 tier cakes, SPS for three or if I'm travel a great distance. The only thing with SPS is that your cakes need to be exactly 4" high. Mine tend to just come out that way, so it's not really an issue for me. I would stay away from those skinny dowel, or God forbid skewers for a 3 tier cake...it's just begging for trouble.
As to serving sizes. I find Wilton wedding chart to be very accurate, unless you are serving football players or they are not serving food at the event, but then I just suggest extra servings.
10, 8, 6 or 12, 9, 6 really depends more on how many people you are serving. My orchid/dragonfly wedding cake is my pics is a 12, 9, 6 and my Star wedding cake is a 10, 8, 6, 4.
Do your research, practice, get a good support system, it will be fine.
best of luck
That was an absolutely brilliant reply, thank you so much! I still need to google some of the terminology you used, but I will do that in the morning I think. I love that you gave me examples of cakes you have made in those size increments, visualising it makes it so much easier.
You can stack Jell-O if you have the right support system. SPS is a great idea. I have used it several times and it is so easy. The only thing I have a problem with is getting my cakes exactly 4" high. There are legs you can cut to size though.
The only thing I would worry about with light and fluffy cakes is covering them in marzipan or fondant. Heavy coverings like those require a denser cake.
As far as the serving sizes, the Wilton chart is the industry standard. If they want bigger pieces, they'll have to pay for more cake, in my opinion.
For the size difference among the tiers, a three inch difference looks nice. That also allows you more room to put decorations on the "ledge" so to speak, like real florals, gumpaste or marzipan decorations, etc. There is nothing wrong with a 10, 8, and 6. I have done that many times, but I do prefer more "ledge" between the tiers, if that makes sense...
thanks for the pep talks, I'm where zespri is at the moment
Excellent advice. The only thing I disagree is the SPS height requirement. Call it beginners luck or something, but when I made the wedding cake in my photo section I measured the cake and cut the legs to that height. I saw a tutorial on egullet where the guy used a seamstress gauge to inset into the cake and get the exact measurement. DH then cut the legs to that height.
Cuttting the legs is not as easy as it sounds if you do not have the right equipment. All we had was some kind of hand saw my DH had in his tool box. He found wrapping painters tape around the leg as a guide to be the best way to get the correct measurement.
When I use it again I will deduct 1/8" off the total measurement to get the plate to sit really nested against the lower cake or even sink in a bit. The twisted rope border you see was not my first choice, but I needed something to hide the plate. In measuring the cake I did not take into consideration the thickness of the plate itself, or something like that.